Judge Bryan Pope's four-year-old whacks this venerable dino franchise with a Ninja Turtle plushie.
Littlefoot learns that even little lies can cause big trouble.
Has it really been 17 years since we first visited The Land Before Time? Indeed it has, and since 1988, we have watched Littlefoot and the gang journey Through the Mist and to The Great Water, endure The Big Freeze and celebrate the Time of the Great Thanksgiving, among other things. Now, Universal invites us to join them on their latest adventure.
Facts of the Case
The "Longneck" Littlefoot and his herd of merry dinosaurs (including Cera the triceratops, Petrie the pterodactyl and Spike the whatever) are preparing to celebrate something called Nibbling Day, which is essentially a huge pig-out fest where everyone gorges on leaves from the "Tree-Sweet Tree."
In a moment of weakness, Littlefoot gets greedy and tries to nab a bite from the tree before the celebration. In the process, he knocks all the leaves from the branches. Faster than you can say Lilliputian, a family of freakazoid "Tinysauruses" appears out of nowhere and gobbles up the pile of precious leaves.
Rather than take responsibility for his role in the fiasco, Littlefoot blames the missing leaves on the race of tiny dinosaurs. What ensues is a hunt for the little varmints. The mob is spearheaded by Cera's cantankerous old coot of a father, Topsy. Speaking of Topsy, things heat up for the (presumably widowed) triceratops when an old flame, Tria, joins the herd and starts making moves, much to Cera's chagrin.
I'm a 32-year-old guy, which means I don't fall within this film's target audience. So, in the interest of a fair review, I recruited my four-year-old critic-in-training, Benjamin, to share his thoughts on Invasion of the Tinysauruses. (Note: Because Ben's brevity doesn't lend itself to a comprehensive review, I have taken the liberty to expound on his thoughts.)
Okay, Ben, you just watched The Land Before Time XI: Invasion of the Tinysauruses. What did you think of it?
Ben: I liked all the dinosaurs. There were nice ones and ones that tried to eat them.
Translation: Like most children my age, I have a casual interest in paleontology. The Land Before Time films tend to infuse their dinosaurs with too many human characteristics, but they have introduced me to a few basic concepts. For example, I now know that there were many different types of dinosaurs and that some were herbivores while others were carnivores.
When Cera's dad was getting all lovey-dovey with his lady dinosaur friend, you stopped watching the movie and took to whacking me with your Ninja Turtle. What gives?
Ben: Girls are…(makes "yucky" face)
Translation: I applaud the movie for addressing topical issues such as broken families, and the Cera/Topsy/Tria triangle does reinforce the film's theme about parents and children needing to understand each other. However, this storyline slowed down an otherwise fast-paced film and lost my attention. The film should have stuck to the storyline where Littlefoot and his buddies come to understand and even befriend the Tinysauruses.
Good point. It was nice the way Littlefoot made friends with the Tinysauruses even though they were different, wasn't it?
Ben: I liked the way they became friends.
Translation: Like the previous Land Before Time films, Invasion of the Tinysauruses celebrates diversity. This is always a fine message to include in a movie geared toward young children.
Well said. Now, this movie had a few songs. What did you think of them?
Ben: What? (Reaches for Ninja Turtle.)
Don't even think about it. There were songs in the movie. Did you like them?
Ben: (thoughtful pause) I liked all the dinosaurs.
Translation: While the songwriters score points for weaving the songs into the story's thematic fabric (e.g. Littlefoot's "If Only" number addresses the importance of telling the truth and "Girls & Dads" pontificates on the communication chasm that too often separates parents and children), the songs themselves were unmemorable and distracting. They took time away from the big draw, which was loud dino action.
Moving on. Was the movie scary?
Translation: No, but unlike, say, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, that's not this movie's intent. Unless you count Cera's crankshaft father or a few carnivorous Sharpteeth who make eleventh-hour appearances, this film has no true antagonist. Rather, it aims to reaffirm our love of family, both immediate and extended.
The DVD looked like it had lots of things to do besides watch the movie.
Ben: No, just the movie.
Translation: Except for a few sing-along songs, a cheesy music video, and endless advertisements for other Land Before Time products, this disc was devoid of supplemental materials. This was somewhat of a disappointment. What a terrific opportunity this would have been for Universal to teach children about life during the Jurassic period and ignite their interest in natural science.
Okay, then back to the movie. Did you like it?
Ben: I think it was very great!
Translation: Despite some minor flaws, I found Invasion of the Tinysauruses to be a highly enjoyable and mostly enriching experience.
Do you think your friends would like it?
Ben: Yes, yes, yes! Can they come over and play? (Bouncing excitedly on the couch.)
Translation: Without a doubt, I know my preschool peers would enjoy it. May I invite them for a screening next weekend?
As far as junk-food viewing goes, you could do worse for your kids than Invasion of the Tinysauruses. It has likeable characters, positive themes, bright colors and enough action to hold their attention. Despite its lack of substantial extras, the disc provides a lovely, fullscreen transfer and adequate Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. You'll find it for around $15, so your kids will get sufficient bang for your entertainment dollar.
Until the inevitable Land Before Time XII, Littlefoot and his posse are cleared of all charges.
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Scales of Justice
• Three new sing-along songs
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